The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: Chickens

When a chicken intended for slaughter escapes from a Chicken-4-Dayz van, Todd decides to take her in. But is there anywhere he can take her where she will be safe from the chopping block?

Chickens is one of my favourite episodes of BoJack, but it’s also one of the darkest. In a world where sentient humanoid animals live and work alongside humans, a fair portion of viewers will have already wondered – where does the meat come from? We’ve seen steak and hamburgers on screen, and, more importantly, we’ve never actually seen animals of the kind encountered in the real world.

Chickens goes some way towards answering this question. Two of the big chicken companies – Chicken-4-Dayz and Gentle Farms – raise humanoid chickens, but pump them full of growth hormones that make them both sub-sentient and eminently tasty. These chickens are nothing like the chickens that live and work among us – or are they? Todd’s adventures with “Becca”, as he names the escaped chicken, hint that the differences may not be so great after all. It’s almost a relief that this particular aspect of the BoJack world is confined to this one episode.

The story is an excellent blend of word play humour and thought-provoking elements, and also shows a great deal of self awareness. I’ve blogged many times about the outlandish Todd B-stories, and here Mr Peanutbutter tells him “Maybe you could go on one of your silly Todd adventures. You know, whatever you do when everyone is busy with other stuff”. Later, Todd himself remarks “Sometimes I feel like my whole life is just a series of loosely-related wacky misadventures”. He’s not wrong, but this time, the Todd story is the A-story.

We also get to see the relatively rare Todd/Diane pairing in this episode, as she ends up accompanying him on his chicken escapades. Apart from making it blatantly obvious how big Todd’s head is compared to Diane’s, this pairing also makes for a refreshing change.

Meanwhile, BoJack is desperately trying to get Kelsey to like him, although his attempts to help her frequently do more harm than good. Princess Carolyn points out that he’s only desperate for Kelsey’s attention because she’s cold and distant – he frequently pushes away the people who actually do care about him. We know that BoJack is desperate for positive attention, but thanks to his low self-esteem he’s equally dismissive of it – how could anyone who liked him have good, reliable judgement? Winning over someone like Kelsey is deeply entangled with his feelings towards his cold, unloving parents, something BoJack himself can realise and acknowledge.

Other notes

  • Tom Jumbo-Grumbo once again gets annoyed at Randy, this time for not preparing a graphic for a news story.
  • BoJack’s car is still damaged from hitting that deer in the previous episode.

Summary – Chickens: “Don’t you get it? They’re all Becca!”

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